Trump prefers mocking asylum seekers over finding solutions

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE has stooped to a new low in what has already become a daily descension into the gutter of inhumanity, uncivil discourse and plain meanness. 

During a rally Friday in Michigan, Donald Trump took to mocking the poor and desperate migrants who are coming here from Central America in droves to save their families’ lives. 

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Trump also is resorting to a dangerous and foolish threat — closing the southern border — if Mexico doesn’t do more to stem the flow of migrants traveling through Mexico from Central America to the United States.

Both actions — the mockery and the threat to close the border — are further indication that Donald Trump is uninterested in fixing the problems that stem from our broken immigration system.

The president has never taken the issue of immigration seriously. He has never seen it as a problem that needs solving, only a solution for his political problems. He uses immigration as a clarion call to his base — instilling fear, inciting division, bigotry and the politics of resentment — so they will never leave him.  

His childish comments making fun of asylum seekers are meant to shock and awe his adoring fans. But they also betray his immense ignorance over the reality that asylum seekers face, and they demonstrate a malicious streak in which he is willing to use their agony for his own political gain.  

These migrants are human beings. They also are following our laws as they present themselves to immigration authorities to claim asylum.

Trump should walk a mile in their shoes before he makes light of their life-and-death situations and uses them as punch lines in a political speech. You can’t get more unpresidential than that.

It is only in understanding the reality of what Central Americans face daily that we will have leaders whose empathy will lead them to fix the situation at its source.   

If Trump really wanted to solve the issue, he would focus on comprehensive immigration reform. But in the short term, he could deploy more immigration judges and asylum case workers that could hear the cases of each of these families on the border and could decide on the merits whether they can seek asylum in this country.

This process will take weeks instead of years, and those that do not meet the asylum standards would be sent back. That will start sending a message about which claims are valid and which ones are not. It would provide a deterrent to those whose situations do not merit asylum, thereby starting to reduce the flow north. 

Long term, Trump needs to work with the Central American countries to help stabilize their economies and governments, invest in stemming and stopping gang activity and violence and work with governments there to increase real job opportunities to grow a robust middle class.

Instead,  Trump is doing exactly the opposite as he announced he will take away aid from these Central American countries. 

We aided Mexico, and it worked. Now the flow of migrants coming from Mexico is net-negative. We can do it in Central America as well. But it will be hard. It will take these kinds of bipartisan policies and a commitment to resolve this in a humane way. 

Donald Trump does not do hard; nor does he do solutions-based policy; and Donald Trump certainly does not do humane. His threat to shut down the entire southern border is as economically dangerous and nonsensical as his mockery of asylum seekers is mean.

Trade along the southern border topped $611 billion last year. American businesses depend on this vibrant trade everyday. Americans and Mexicans on both sides of the border cross back and forth daily to make a living. 

Mexico is our third-largest trading partner, and it is a vital partner for the U.S. in combating drug-tracking and illegal immigration.

The problem is that Donald Trump doesn’t know what the problem is. He is threatening to shut down the border because he is saying Mexico will not stop the caravans on their way to the United States. 

The reality is that Mexican President Andres Lopez Obrador has been an ally of Trump even as he campaigned against him before getting elected. 

But since being in office, he wants to nurture a good relationship with the Trump administration and has been a willing partner in keeping asylum seekers on the Mexican side of the border — facing criticism from human rights activists for good reason — instead of letting them cross into the United States. 

Detaining hundreds of migrants walking through Mexico who are not breaking the law is not a long-term viable option. Neither is shutting down the entire southern border.

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There is no question that the situation is now at a crisis point. But it is a humanitarian crisis of Trump’s own making as he has been impotent in solving the issue. Instead, he has done everything he can to exacerbate the problem from the moment he took office.  

President Ronald Reagan is the one who described the United States of America as a shining city on a hill, a beacon of hope for everyone around the world who is seeking to be free and to live a better life.

Donald Trump clearly wants to extinguish that beacon. That is not leadership. That is a campaign strategy.  America deserves better. 

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.